Harvest Time suggestions for your Fall visit to Vancouver Farmers Markets

Photo credit: Nicli Antica Pizzeria

Photo credit: Nicli Antica Pizzeria

Harvest time has arrived in Vancouver. This time of year is all about going to movies, making big pots of soup and large, shared meals with friends.

What a lot of summer-focused shoppers don’t realize, is that harvest season is still a fantastic time to frequent Vancouver’s numerous farmers’ markets. Did you know that the Trout Lake, Kitsilano, WestEnd, Kerrisdale and Mt. Pleasant farmers markets all run to mid-October this year?

The fall markets are almost as Technicolor as the summer. Bushels of beets, misshapen winter squash, glorious apple-smelling apples all jockey to catch you eye. While berries may be mostly gone (sniff, sniff), there are so many other in-season ingredients for sale at local farmers’ markets: garlic, pears, carrots, onions, hazelnuts and broccoli.

To break my soup and stew habits, I approached a chef from Nicli Antica Pizzeria and one of Vancouver Farmer’s Markets in-house foodies for their fall food recommendations. Below you’ll find some of their suggestions for your next autumnal visit to the farmers market.

Photo credit: Vancouver Farmers Markets

Photo credit: Vancouver Farmers Markets

Vancouver Farmers’ Market Operations Manager Roberta LaQuaglia has a few harvest favourites.

“Beets, which are great roasted or shredded raw on top of a salad, and daikon, which I like to pickle with carrots Vietnamese-style – a condiment called Do Chua,” says LaQuaglia. “A lot of people don’t realize we have some delicious Asian vegetables grown locally and sold at the market.”

Do Chua is the sweet, crunchy topping you usually find atop a banh mi sandwich. These ‘refridgerator picklers’ super easy to make and carry only the slightest of spice thanks to the daikon. They’re also lovely as a garnish or condiment for other foods – for example on tacos or salad.

Chef Dave Tozer, from Nicli Antica Pizza, is a lover of winter squash and hazelnuts. When I asked him for harvest food tips, he sent me the recipe below. Again, a creature of habit, I usually associate squash with soup, so the pizza is a completely refreshing way to combine these two earthy-tasting fall foods.

Just in case you still can’t get enough of locally sourced food into the rainy months of November/December, you have two markets to choose from this fall/early winter. The Yaletown market, located next to the Roundhouse Station entrance, will be around until December 19. The regular winter season market in the east parking lot of Nat Bailey Stadium starts back up in November.

Happy harvest cooking and market shopping!

Nicli Antica Pizzeria’s Farmer’s Market Pizza

Pizza Base:
4 cups 00 flour
1 ½ cups, plus 2 Tbsp. water
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry active yeast

Mix the dough using a stand mixer: slowly for two minutes, faster for five minutes, and slow again for two minutes. Cover the dough and let it rise for 1 ½ hours or until it doubles. Punch it down and push out the air bubbles. Form the dough into a large ball, then cut it into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball with your hands, then stretch the top of the ball down and around the rest of the ball until the outer layer wraps through the other side.

Pinch that layer together to make a smooth ball with a tight outer skin. Allow the balls to rest seam side down, dust them with flour and store them under a damp towel to prevent the dough from drying out. Allow the balls to rest for about an hour and they will become soft, elastic and easily stretched into a Neapolitan style pizza. Use this dough within an hour or refrigerate it if you wish to make it in advance.

Pizza Topping:
1 large bunch Italian parsley leaves (no stems)
1 or 2 cloves local garlic
2 Tbsp. local hazelnuts
Pinch of sea salt
Scant 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano + 1 Tbsp.
3 Tbsp. – ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil + a tiny bit extra
1 red onion, julienned and roasted
½ winter squash, diced and roasted
2 -3 thick slices slab bacon or pancetta, lightly cooked
Bite sized morsels of fior di latte (8 – 13)
A handful of heirloom cherry tomatoes halved or diced

With a baking stone within, preheat your oven to 500º F, for at least 45 minutes. Make a pesto sauce with the parsley, garlic, hazelnuts, sea salt, 1/3 c. Pecorino Romano and the extra virgin olive oil. You want a fairly thick consistency, but still thin enough to spread easily. Stretch one ball of your freshly made pizza dough into a pizza disk. Add some extra virgin olive oil to the top and distribute evenly with your fingertips. Smear over 2 Tbsp. of the parsley/hazelnut pesto.    Scatter over the extra 1 Tbsp. of Pecorino Romano. Add bite sized morsels of fior di latte (8-13).

Add some julienned roasted red onions. Add roasted Winter Squash. Add cooked diced bacon. Scatter the tomatoes evenly over the pizza. Transfer to the pizza stone, cook for 5-8 minutes or until done.   Remove to a plate and eat it with a knife and fork.

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